Monday, June 2, 2014

Striking At Dave Ramsey

The Daily Beast recently published a piece about Dave Ramsey.  It was a very interesting read for me because I have taught his Financial Peace University course twice and still follow much of his advice when it comes to personal finance.

To sum up the article, a bunch of former employees to Mr. Ramsey’s company have started private Facebook groups and anonymous Twitter accounts designed to attack Ramsey and his company.   In response to this, Dave Ramsey has engaged in what is described as a “Social Media Witch Hunt” to root out these naysayers, going so far as to issue a huge bounty to his employees for names.

The article is clearly a hit piece against Mr. Ramsey, but it is not without merit.  If some of the things mentioned in the article are true then it is clear the Mr. Ramsey has gotten more and more paranoid over the years.  In one instance, he apparently pulled a loaded gun out to illustrate what he thinks of office gossip during an all hands meeting.  In other instances, he has been known to have employees pastors come into his office to mediate a disagreement said employee had with the organization.

If either of those stories are true, then Mr. Ramsey is clearly crossing a line.  In the first case, it’s just bad manners to pull a loaded gun on people except when you are facing an actual threat to your life.  In the second case, he is crossing a boundary in his employee’s lives.  The personal is not the professional for most people.  By bringing in a person’s pastor, he is crossing a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

Now, that being said, I believe that the complaints by the former employees are superfluous at best.  In most cases, this is just bad blood by people who either resigned or lost their jobs while working for Mr. Ramsey and are holding a grudge.

I’ve personally been laid off three times in the past three years.  In all cases, I’ve not held a grudge and I’ve let all that resentment that I’ve felt go.  In the end, I did not care about the companies I’ve worked for and I’ve pretty much lost contact with most of my former co-workers.  I’m not sad about any of it.

In truth, a lot of these people sound like whiners, complaining about things like putting in their resignations only to find that most people didn’t want to talk to them again, which happens in every company, to claims that the company is operated by fear.

I’ve worked for some bad companies in my day.  The first company I worked for was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy when I put my two weeks in.  This was not known to most employees at the time and I only found out after I put my two weeks in.  The second company I worked for refused to expand and grow their products and was run by incompetent developers and managers.  When I was laid off, I already had my foot in the door and was looking for a new job.  They are still in business as far as I know.

My point about those two examples is that not all companies are the same.  If you follow Dave Ramsey’s advice and have six months of personal expenses saved up, you can leave your job at any time.  If his employees really were following his advice and felt uncomfortable about working there, they should have left as soon as they could.  They should have left and not looked back.

I am not a Dave Ramsey follower.  Like I said, I follow much of his advice, but not all.  I’ve stayed out of debt, gotten rid of the existing debt, and saved up six months of personal expenses.  I am planning on investing, but I will be including gold and silver in my investment plans because unlike Mr. Ramsey, I plan on diversifying my portfolio.  Mutual Funds are good, but require a return of at least 11% in order to meet real inflation, as the real inflation rate (excluding food, fuel, and housing prices) is around 8% and you add another 3% for taxes.  Most mutual funds do not reach that rate.

I also plan on buying my first house with no mortgage or any other financing.  This is a goal that was inspired by Dave Ramsey and one that I know will take a while to accomplish.  But I am done with getting into debt games that the banks are playing.

I do suspect that many of Mr. Ramsey’s employees see him as some sort of modern day prophet in that he speaks God’s Word on finances.  I believe that Mr. Ramsey may believe it himself to a degree.  I am sure that he is thin-skinned when it comes to criticism and that his employees, especially those close to him, are willing to do anything to silence critics.

I will probably never teach another Financial Peace University again.  I hadn’t planned on doing so for a while now, but this article along with some other cases where he has targeted other people as well.

On the whole, Dave Ramsey has a right to run his company however he desires to run it.  This does not mean I won’t criticize him, but that I won’t be calling for his head.  His employees, likewise, do not have to work for him.  But I would like to end by offering a word of advice to them: Dave Ramsey’s company will end when he decides to end it or he dies.  It will not pass on to someone else because the entire company is rooted in his identity.  So just have a plan for when the day when Mr. Ramsey either decides to stop his company or unexpectedly dies.